A pioneer of abstract sculpture in Colombia, Edgar Negret developed an aesthetics of assemblage reminiscent of the armatures used in architectural engineering. Combining bolts and flat metal bars, Negret’s sculptures defeat the conventional logic of hard and heavy building materials through structures that appear malleable, flexible, and fragile. Sun is an iconic work within Negret’s artistic production, fusing major influences from geometric abstraction to the work of sculptor Alexander Calder—whom he met in New York—and the symbolic motifs of pre-Columbian art. The grids and patterns in the architectural structures of the Inca city Machu Picchu, which he visited in 1980, inspired several of his pieces. In this sculpture, strips of red-painted metal are joined together as they bend and twist in opposite directions, forming a rhythmic pattern and implying volumetric space. This highly dynamic structure cannot be apprehended from one single perspective, instead requiring the viewer to move around it, a characteristic of kinetic art. Sun recalls iconographic representations of the Inca Sun God Inti, often depicted as a golden semicircle with radiating, zigzagging lines. This sculpture further renders homage to folk and popular culture by celebrating simple and everyday materials. The interlocking ribbons recall the paper decorations, or guirnaldas, used during national holidays in Colombia.
Text credit: Produced in collaboration with the University of Maryland Department of Art History & Archaeology and Patricia Ortega-Miranda